Grade Level: 6th - 8th; Type: Physics
A non-Newtonian fluid contains elements of both a liquid and a solid. This science project allows you to explore a simple non-Newtonian fluid.
What is a Non-Newtonian fluid? How does it work?
If you need to cross a river of quicksand, what should you do? Run right across it, of course. If you run over a river of quicksand, it will act like a solid. If you slowly step into it, it will act like a liquid. Try out this science project to save yourself next time you find yourself sinking.
- Large bowl
- Water, oil, or applesauce
- 1 ½ cups of cornstarch
- 1 ¼ cups of water
- Fill a bowl with water, oil, or applesauce, all of which are considered liquid for the purposes of this experiment.
- Press two fingers into the substance. Then punch the substance with your fist. What happens?
- Press two fingers onto a solid surface, such as a tabletop. Punch the solid surface. What happens?
- Discard the substance in the bowl, and rinse out the bowl.
- Add about 1 ½ cups of cornstarch and 1 ¼ cups of water to the bowl.
- Mix the cornstarch and water together until the mixture is difficult to stir, but not too dry. If necessary, add a bit more cornstarch or water until you reach the desired consistency.
- Sprinkle sand over the surface of the mixture.
- Press two fingers into the mixture and observe what happens.
- Punch the mixture with your fist. What happens?
- Fill out a table, such as the one below, describing which aspects of the mixture are similar to a liquid, and which aspects are similar to a solid.
Terms/Concepts: Non-Newtonian fluid; What are the characteristics of solids and liquids?
- Experiments You Can Do in Your Backyard, edited by Joanna Callihan and Nathan Hemmelgarn. Pp 54-55.